Archive for the ‘Animal Abuse’ Category

>Bessemer mayor treading on thin ice

July 21, 2010

>Last Thursday I took the mayor up on his invitation, left on my gate the week before:

Mayor Edward E. May invites you to:
The Mayor’s Town Hall Meeting
Canaan Baptist Church, 824 15th street North, Bessemer, AL 35020. Thursday, July 15, 2010 6:30 pm

Come and Share: What is happening? What are your concerns? What can we do to make Bessemer better?

Come, and together we can make it happen.

There was a terrific thunderstorm at 6:20 that evening, and only about 10 people showed up for the meeting. Because there are people who would like to hear what the mayor has to say, and because often it seems unusual things happen at these meetings, I took my camcorder.

Before the meeting began the mayor came and sat down across the table from me, and asked me who I was representing now. He was aware that I used to write an opinion column for his media nemesis, The Western Tribune. I told him that we had a lack of media coverage in the city, and that I was representing myself and the people of Bessemer who are unable to attend his meetings. He replied that we didn’t need any more media, in fact there is still too much media.

I began to record when the meeting began. About 10 minutes later, this dialogue occurred (emphasis mine):

Mayor: I would appreciate it if you would not record that. I would appreciate it if you would not record it.

Joe: If I would not record. If I would not record?

Mayor: Yes.

Joe: Can I ask why?

Mayor: You can, but you’re recording what we’re saying right now. But I would appreciate it if you would not record it. This is inviting of the public, but it’s not a public forum and quite frankly I’m concerned about your motive for being here and the intent that you have of the recording.

Joe: Ok, I’ll turn it off and leave.

I was not asked to leave, but I left of my own accord because I was trying to process what I viewed as an attempt to censor the media by a public official. I remembered that the Alabama Open Meetings Act included this statement in Section 6:

” A meeting of a governmental body, except while in executive session, may be openly recorded by any person in attendance, by means of a tape recorder, or any other means of sonic, photographic, or video reproduction, provided the recording does not disrupt the conduct of the meeting.”

Was this a public meeting? I went home and did some research, then composed and sent this letter to the Western Star. The letter may be printed in today’s newspaper (I haven’t seen it yet).

Dear Editor:

I attended the mayor’s town hall meeting on July 15 but I only stayed for about 10 minutes. I brought my camcorder with me, and was recording the meeting so that those who were unable to attend could hear what the mayor had to say. Elections are coming up, and we have very little recorded media here in Bessemer.


After speaking for a few minutes, the mayor asked me to turn the recorder off. I asked why, and he wouldn’t answer other than to say he questioned my motives. But he did add, “(this meeting) is not a public forum.”


“Town hall meeting” is defined as “an informal public meeting” where “everyone in a community is invited to attend, voice their opinions, and hear from public figures and elected officials.”


Just a week before I had attended a town hall meeting for Terri Sewell in West End where video was recorded by a progressive blogger, a Birmingham News reporter, and a television crew. This candidate, with nothing to hide and full of confidence, welcomed the media.


The mayor questioned my motives. I question his; wanting to keep the public from hearing what he has to say. One thing we know, this candidate does not believe in openness or transparency.

Joe Openshaw

This is not the first time the mayor has shut me up. At a council meeting in 2007 I stood before the group with pictures of abused dogs that had suffered while under the care of the Bessemer Animal Shelter. (Information here) I still have the pictures, (an you can see some of them here ) if anyone wants to see.

I was reporting to the council that the actions of the shelter management were afoul of the law, and at the mention of “Rev.” Eades (the department head that oversees the facility) the mayor stopped me right there and I was not allowed to speak any more.

This is typical of the mayor who operates under the premise that if the people don’t know, there is no problem.

The same thing happened earlier this year when the mayor refused to accept a check for dog food from a bingo operator (story at the second link above) even though dogs were starving in the shelter. The mayor said there had never been starving dogs there (although I have documentation that there has).

Were the mayor’s actions at the Town Hall meeting illegal, according to Alabama law? I don’t know, but when I said in my letter that this mayor does not believe in openness and transparency, I meant it.

>Hot in the chamber…in Bessemer and in DC

October 1, 2009

>I’m not going to create a long post on the City Council meeting in Bessemer last night. I’ll leave that to the “illegitimate tabloid” and the other local newsflyer.

But here are some highlights.

“Council shouldn’t be co-mingling with employees.”

What smart-alec came up with the idea of changing the lock.”

“My pacifying days are over.”

“I will take your little tail across the street.”

“And you call yourself a preacher.”

“You’re filibustering.”

“There is no common area in the clerk’s office.”

This was an embarrassment to the city of Bessemer. There were people there from other cities who were disgusted at the way our city officials behaved. I asked one visitor if she had ever seen a body as dysfunctional as that and she replied “Yes,” she used to live in Meridian, Mississippi.

This was her first time to a Bessemer meeting, she came because of the dog issue. It was the first time she heard the mayor lie (about the legality of BINGO, for one, about the dogs never being without food, for two), but we are getting used to it. Next summer can not get here quickly enough. I could skip the beautiful fall weather, Thanksgiving and Christmas, and the spring flowers and the Final Four and a trip to the beach next June if it would get us to the city elections quicker.

But I guess I will have to wait.

The animal issue sort of gets lost in this report, but don’t think it is going away. It is our responsibility to care for these animals. “Ours” as in humanity’s. “Ours” as in the city’s.

http://cfc.abc3340.com/mediaplayer.swf

Things got hot in DC,too as Florida congressman Alan Grayson gave it to the Republicans by apologizing to the dead. 44,789 dead Americans. Americans who die each year because they don’t have health insurance. Read it here.

>Crazy in (Bessemer) Alabama

September 24, 2009

>My letter was posted on Equality Across America!

OK, Bessemer is just turning into the strangest place in Alabama. Here’s just a sampling of the craziness. All of these stories come from the Western Tribune. Mostly.

1. Heard during a city council meeting last week, from a preacher addressing the council: “I don’t know why they are upset. Prostitutes are in the neighborhood late at night and they go to houses to give oral sex.”

“They” are residents on the street where his “church” is. “Church” is in quotes because…

2. A church is not a church if it doesn’t have a steeple, according to mayor Ed May. Of course, the number of storefront “churches” without steeples in Bessemer is only outnumbered by bail bondsmen and payday loan stores. And the largest churches on the historic southside, the Methodist Church and Visionary Ministry, formerly South Highland Baptist, don’t have steeples, so I guess the gig is up.

3. Three years after the last election the city council is finally about to grow some (no disrespect to Louise Alexander, Dorothy Davidson or Sarah Belcher). After council members were prevented from collecting their mail…well, actually, after they discovered their mailboxes were gone and “no one knew where they were”…they got riled. Council president Earl Cochran said he would ask the council to censure the mayor. But it’s not just the mail issue. It has to do with changing locks and not getting the state forensic audit of city finances the council requested and…

4. The animal control issue will not go away. Hmmm. Let me just leave it at this. On Wednesday September 30 at 6:00 PM there will be a special meeting of the city council. Be there, if for no other reason, to be a witness.

Maybe, just maybe, a bit of the truth will be heard that night. Then there is this…

5. Red Scare!!!! That we have uneducated lemmings in Bessemer really surprised me. We had a discussion last night, and it was agreed that the enemy is not communism. And this is not 1950. I might reveal the true enemy in my column next week. Here’s a hint: if you don’t know what it is, you might be part of it!

>Western Tribune column Sept. 9, 2009 Shelter Abuse and Ed May

September 9, 2009

>Here is my Western Tribune column for the week.

On July 7, 2009 at a city council meeting Bessemer mayor Ed May accepted a $5000 check from Robert White for Bessemer Schools.

On September 1, 2009 at a city council meeting Mayor May explained his refusal to accept a $2000 donation from Robert White which would have benefited the Bessemer Animal Shelter which had been without food.

I would quote his statement that he did not have the authority to accept anything on behalf of the city except why should we believe him, when he also said this:

“There has been no time when we have been out of food for our animals nor has there been any time when we have not had sufficient funds to purchase food. The dogs have absolutely not gone hungry.”

He said this less than a week after the shelter had called Greater Birmingham Humane Society begging for food and cleaning supplies.

I spoke with the director of GBHS and was told this is not the first time Bessemer has called with such a request.

The mayor previously said, “Something like this, quite frankly, it reminds me of Sodom and Gomorrah,” when the council passed the bingo ordinance.

The lesson of Sodom, when considered with all the passages in the Bible that mention the story, is a condemnation of the mistreatment of those who are most vulnerable, in that case, the strangers who appeared in town. In Ezekiel the guilt of Sodom is referred to as pride and excess of food with an unwillingness to assist the needy.

While the prophet was certainly referring to needy persons, it just seems that the prideful mayor’s refusal to accept the excess of food for the needy animals reeks of the type of wrongdoing referred to in scripture.

And while we are considering the biblical aspects of the story, let’s remember that we were given dominion over the creation. That means that we have a responsibility to care for the earth and its creatures, including the dogs and cats under our care. At the very least that would mean not neglecting or abusing animals and not withholding food. There is documented evidence of abuse over the last few years at the Bessemer shelter, and this latest incident only serves to underscore the uncaring attitude of city officials.

The people of Bessemer should rise up in protest about our shelter and our mayor. The dogs and cats deserve better.

>Bessemer Mayor contributing to neglect of shelter animals

August 31, 2009

>Update: The city council meeting will be at 6:00 today (Tuesday). Be there if you want better animal care.

Two years ago the city of Bessemer had a problem in their animal shelter. As a not so gentle reminder, here are pictures of two animals that were under their care.



Soon after this happened, “we” tried to address the problems before the city council, and as I was speaking the Mayor (Ed May) stopped me right as I was describing specific abuses and said my allegations were not true and that Bessemer did not have an animal problem.

My response in a column printed in the Western Tribune was that he was right. The animals were not the problem. The problem was with the people responsible for their care.

I think the Bessemer pound cleaned up its act, and though things might not be ideal, neglect has not been an issue.

At the time “we” recommended oversight and training by an outside agency.

Today neglect is occurring again, but this time the buck stops at the very top. The shelter was out of dog food. A sizable donation was made to buy food. A volunteer went to Walmart to buy food. She ran into city employees who were purchasing food. I assume they were on a tight budget because they decided that they would put their food back and accept the donation of food. I am told Rev. Eades OK’d that.

When they got to the shelter with the food, the employees were eager to feed the dogs, but they were told that the donation was being refused. Donations of that magnitude have to be approved by the mayor, they were told. The mayor refused to let the city accept the dog food.

The donation was in the form of a check from Robert White who runs the Anchor Club Charity Bingo. The mayor, who said “Something like this, quite frankly, it reminds me of Sodom and Gomorrah,” when bingo was passed, would rather see dogs starve and die, I guess, than accept a donation.

There will be council meeting Tuesday evening, I am told, where this can be brought up. People are being asked to pack city hall at 6:00. Check back here on Tuesday to confirm this meeting time. I was told there would be two meetings tomorrow and that seems odd to me, so we may be getting the runaround.

At any rate, any animal neglect currently going on falls directly onto the lap of mayor Ed May.

“We” may attempt to get the shelter closed. If the city cannot affort to feed the animals, and will not accept donations of food, they should not be taking in animals.

>Stories that caught my eye

August 14, 2009

>To see Bill Clinton get heckled (sort of) and his response (and explanation of DADT and DOMA) visit Bham Gay community Examiner.

Major press problems delay B’ham News But our paper arrived around 8:00. At least they were up front this time about the delay, unlike the numerous problems we had a few months ago.

Chris Todd named starting QB Kodi Burns supports. War Eagle.

Michael Vick named back up for Eagles Now, you all know that I am all about people getting their chance after they have paid their dues. But…

Pitino story gets weirder every day Why can’t guys keep their pants zipped up? Really. Anyone?

Bessemer council approves withdrawal from Colonial Bank You mean Bessemer has $144,000???

Rickwood plan for museum honoring Birmingham’s baseball heritage This is my favorite story of the day. I love Rickwood field, used to go there as a kid. Haven’t been back in decades, but this is big.

Some Negro league baseball players were in the front row at a symbolic groundbreaking that was held outside of historic Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Ala., Thurs., Aug. 13, 2009 for a baseball museum dedicated to the city’s baseball heritage. The museum will feature the history of the former Negro League as well as that of the Southern League. Both the Birmingham Barons and the Black Barons played at Rickwood. The City Council in May approved spending $7.5 million to restore the century-old ballpark and build the museum. The Birmingham News/Bernard Troncale).

Bessemer Animal Cruelty and… Libscomb

August 1, 2007

Bessemer Mayor Ed May stopped me in the middle of addressing the Bessemer City Council last night. After calling the newspaper I write for a tabloid with made up news, he did not want to hear that Bessemer Animal Control is abusing animals and my use of the word “illegal” in describing procedures there that violate state law was too much for him.

But I was able to remind the council (and the mayor) that they had heard the accusations before in the form of a letter from Jacque Meyer of the Greater Birmingham Humane Society in November 2006. They were also reminded that the letter outlined a solution, that is the hiring of Kim Staton of Animal Welfare Consultations to assess and make recommendations.

After the mayor interrupted me the council referred the issue to committee (oh my god) to look into it. As if that will lead anywhere (without severe prodding from interested parties).

I don’t take the oath I took as a veterinarian to promote the welfare of animals and relieve animal suffering for the benefit of society lightly. So my mission is not over.

I want to urge those of you who live in Bessemer to call your council person and let them know you support having an outside consultant assess the animal control program and how horrible it is that Bessemer is allowing this to continue.

District 1 Dorothy Davidson 424-4060
District 2 Louise Alexander 424-4060
District 3 Sarah Belcher 424-4060
District 4 Jimmy Stephans 424-4060
District 5 Albert Soles 424-4060
District 6 Jesse Matthews 424-4060
District 7 Earl Cochran 424-4060

Since our city officials do not make email addresses or personal phone numbers public, you will have to call the council office. If you catch them in the office, great, if not, leave a message with the secretary or on their voice mail. this will only take a few minutes.

If you live outside the city you can call the same number (205-424-4060) and ask for the mayor’s office or just leave a message with the receptionist. The city just needs a lot of calls.

But there are others in different positions who will also be taking measures to stop the animal cruelty. Good for them.

*****************************************************************
Here is the column in the Western Tribune regarding Lipscomb this week.

What can possibly happen to make the situation in Lipscomb worse? I mean, the mayor, Simon Speights, has resigned after the district attorney asked a judge to remove him from office because of a prior felony conviction. This follows the resignation of mayor Jimmie Johnson, who resigned after it was determined that he didn’t even live in the city.

The next mayor could be city council member Gaston Randle, but he has been charged with four felonies, so his future is questionable. Another council member, David Horn, has charges against him as well.

Former mayor Speights has been accused of driving a stolen vehicle, city officials are impersonating police officers, and Hispanics are being threatened and shaken down.

But things could get worse. The remaining officials could be allowed to continue to govern. The city could continue to exist.

I have nothing against the people of Lipscomb, but no one should have to live under the type of rule (and lack of rule) that they have suffered under for years. There is no doubt that there are qualified people living in Lipscomb who could manage the city, but apparently they do not want the responsibility because in recent years they have not made their presence known.

Lipscomb needs to become District 8 of Bessemer. The territory of Lipscomb has few businesses to generate sales tax and business license revenue. Property values are such that revenue from property taxes is low as well. Other than shaking down immigrants and setting up illegal roadblocks there is no steady source of income for the city.

Municipal services, like police and fire protection, while not perfect in Bessemer, would definitely improve if Lipscomb becomes part of this city.

Of course, the homes in Lipscomb are not like the newly built homes on the other side of Bessemer. Some of us love the older homes, though, and would be glad to add them to the array of historic residences in our city that our homeowners are so proud of.

In 1890 Bessemer was the fourth largest city in the state in terms of population, but 117 years later we are nowhere near that and in fact the city is still losing residents, according to U. S. Census estimates. Lipscomb has lost residents over the last few years as well and has about 2400 residents. However Lipscomb’s per capita annual income is about $1300 higher and household income about $7000 higher, and this could actually raise Bessemer’s income levels.

Bessemer officials should talk to the officials in Lipscomb about becoming part of our city. But wait, who would they talk to? Your guess is as good as mine.

>Bessemer Animal Cruelty and… Libscomb

August 1, 2007

>Bessemer Mayor Ed May stopped me in the middle of addressing the Bessemer City Council last night. After calling the newspaper I write for a tabloid with made up news, he did not want to hear that Bessemer Animal Control is abusing animals and my use of the word “illegal” in describing procedures there that violate state law was too much for him.

But I was able to remind the council (and the mayor) that they had heard the accusations before in the form of a letter from Jacque Meyer of the Greater Birmingham Humane Society in November 2006. They were also reminded that the letter outlined a solution, that is the hiring of Kim Staton of Animal Welfare Consultations to assess and make recommendations.

After the mayor interrupted me the council referred the issue to committee (oh my god) to look into it. As if that will lead anywhere (without severe prodding from interested parties).

I don’t take the oath I took as a veterinarian to promote the welfare of animals and relieve animal suffering for the benefit of society lightly. So my mission is not over.

I want to urge those of you who live in Bessemer to call your council person and let them know you support having an outside consultant assess the animal control program and how horrible it is that Bessemer is allowing this to continue.

District 1 Dorothy Davidson 424-4060
District 2 Louise Alexander 424-4060
District 3 Sarah Belcher 424-4060
District 4 Jimmy Stephans 424-4060
District 5 Albert Soles 424-4060
District 6 Jesse Matthews 424-4060
District 7 Earl Cochran 424-4060

Since our city officials do not make email addresses or personal phone numbers public, you will have to call the council office. If you catch them in the office, great, if not, leave a message with the secretary or on their voice mail. this will only take a few minutes.

If you live outside the city you can call the same number (205-424-4060) and ask for the mayor’s office or just leave a message with the receptionist. The city just needs a lot of calls.

But there are others in different positions who will also be taking measures to stop the animal cruelty. Good for them.

*****************************************************************
Here is the column in the Western Tribune regarding Lipscomb this week.

What can possibly happen to make the situation in Lipscomb worse? I mean, the mayor, Simon Speights, has resigned after the district attorney asked a judge to remove him from office because of a prior felony conviction. This follows the resignation of mayor Jimmie Johnson, who resigned after it was determined that he didn’t even live in the city.

The next mayor could be city council member Gaston Randle, but he has been charged with four felonies, so his future is questionable. Another council member, David Horn, has charges against him as well.

Former mayor Speights has been accused of driving a stolen vehicle, city officials are impersonating police officers, and Hispanics are being threatened and shaken down.

But things could get worse. The remaining officials could be allowed to continue to govern. The city could continue to exist.

I have nothing against the people of Lipscomb, but no one should have to live under the type of rule (and lack of rule) that they have suffered under for years. There is no doubt that there are qualified people living in Lipscomb who could manage the city, but apparently they do not want the responsibility because in recent years they have not made their presence known.

Lipscomb needs to become District 8 of Bessemer. The territory of Lipscomb has few businesses to generate sales tax and business license revenue. Property values are such that revenue from property taxes is low as well. Other than shaking down immigrants and setting up illegal roadblocks there is no steady source of income for the city.

Municipal services, like police and fire protection, while not perfect in Bessemer, would definitely improve if Lipscomb becomes part of this city.

Of course, the homes in Lipscomb are not like the newly built homes on the other side of Bessemer. Some of us love the older homes, though, and would be glad to add them to the array of historic residences in our city that our homeowners are so proud of.

In 1890 Bessemer was the fourth largest city in the state in terms of population, but 117 years later we are nowhere near that and in fact the city is still losing residents, according to U. S. Census estimates. Lipscomb has lost residents over the last few years as well and has about 2400 residents. However Lipscomb’s per capita annual income is about $1300 higher and household income about $7000 higher, and this could actually raise Bessemer’s income levels.

Bessemer officials should talk to the officials in Lipscomb about becoming part of our city. But wait, who would they talk to? Your guess is as good as mine.

A Simpson Short…and Western Trib Column

July 27, 2007

Today is too busy and I don’t have much time, so it’s Tribune column day. These columns as posted here are not always word for word as to what is in the paper, because of editing and such. Then there’s a little Simpson’s info following the column.

**************************************************************

To my knowledge there has been no response from the city regarding the animal abuse that has occurred in our animal control facility following the story and picture of the burned dog in this paper. The paper reported that the mayor claimed the city does not have an animal problem.

That is true. The animals are not the problem. The problem is with the people who own them and some of the people who are mandated to provide care and shelter for them when they are taken in by the city.

State law requires that the city provide animal control, and there are standards that must be followed. The City of Bessemer is not following these standards both in the care it provides for animals and in the dispensation of animals (whether it is euthanasia or adoption). This is not only a dog health issue; it is a human public health issue.

Last year this was brought to the attention of the Mayor and each city council member by way of a letter from the executive director of the Greater Birmingham Humane Society delivered to each in November. In addition, a plan of action was presented that would have gotten Bessemer on track to correct its problems. The letter was ignored. The director never got a response.

One recommended action was to utilize the services of Kim Staton, a consultant with “Animal Welfare Consultations.” She will visit, assess, and make very specific recommendations to correct the array of problems currently in place. The Humane Society noted in the letter that the fee charged by Ms. Staton was equal to the dollar amount discounted Bessemer by the society for services performed between June 2006 until September 2006, about $7,000. In essence, the Greater Birmingham Humane Society would have paid for the service, and Bessemer would reap the benefits for free.

The Bessemer Neighborhood Association and others are not going to be satisfied with a response of “We can take care of this” because the city has had plenty of opportunity and has not taken care of it. The only acceptable solution is to hire Ms. Staton or a similar outside consultant to evaluate our situation and provide a plan. Any other response reeks of attempting to hide the truth and we as citizens have grown tired of that.

*******************************************************************

Bart Simpson will hit the Silver Screen all over the country this weekend, but what about Nancy Cartwright?


She is forty nine years old and has been the voice of Bart Simpson since his small screen debut 20 years ago ( in a tv short, the series is just 18 years old).

For the short she was called in to read for Lisa, but like Bart’s “devious, school hating, irreverent” characteristics and chose that part instead.

She gets a six figure paycheck for each episode (which takes about 6 hours of work for her each week). It’s good work if you can get it.

She’s a student of scientology…didn’t Bart take on that cult once? I wonder what she thought of that.

Anyway…go see the movie.

>A Simpson Short…and Western Trib Column

July 27, 2007

>Today is too busy and I don’t have much time, so it’s Tribune column day. These columns as posted here are not always word for word as to what is in the paper, because of editing and such. Then there’s a little Simpson’s info following the column.

**************************************************************

To my knowledge there has been no response from the city regarding the animal abuse that has occurred in our animal control facility following the story and picture of the burned dog in this paper. The paper reported that the mayor claimed the city does not have an animal problem.

That is true. The animals are not the problem. The problem is with the people who own them and some of the people who are mandated to provide care and shelter for them when they are taken in by the city.

State law requires that the city provide animal control, and there are standards that must be followed. The City of Bessemer is not following these standards both in the care it provides for animals and in the dispensation of animals (whether it is euthanasia or adoption). This is not only a dog health issue; it is a human public health issue.

Last year this was brought to the attention of the Mayor and each city council member by way of a letter from the executive director of the Greater Birmingham Humane Society delivered to each in November. In addition, a plan of action was presented that would have gotten Bessemer on track to correct its problems. The letter was ignored. The director never got a response.

One recommended action was to utilize the services of Kim Staton, a consultant with “Animal Welfare Consultations.” She will visit, assess, and make very specific recommendations to correct the array of problems currently in place. The Humane Society noted in the letter that the fee charged by Ms. Staton was equal to the dollar amount discounted Bessemer by the society for services performed between June 2006 until September 2006, about $7,000. In essence, the Greater Birmingham Humane Society would have paid for the service, and Bessemer would reap the benefits for free.

The Bessemer Neighborhood Association and others are not going to be satisfied with a response of “We can take care of this” because the city has had plenty of opportunity and has not taken care of it. The only acceptable solution is to hire Ms. Staton or a similar outside consultant to evaluate our situation and provide a plan. Any other response reeks of attempting to hide the truth and we as citizens have grown tired of that.

*******************************************************************

Bart Simpson will hit the Silver Screen all over the country this weekend, but what about Nancy Cartwright?


She is forty nine years old and has been the voice of Bart Simpson since his small screen debut 20 years ago ( in a tv short, the series is just 18 years old).

For the short she was called in to read for Lisa, but like Bart’s “devious, school hating, irreverent” characteristics and chose that part instead.

She gets a six figure paycheck for each episode (which takes about 6 hours of work for her each week). It’s good work if you can get it.

She’s a student of scientology…didn’t Bart take on that cult once? I wonder what she thought of that.

Anyway…go see the movie.